How do humans evolve?

Human Advancement Over Time

No, not you.
No, not you.

When we visit the ape exhibit at the local zoo, are we looking at a relative we inadvertently left off our Thanksgiving dinner invite list? No, not really. Even though we do share a common ancestor from about 5 to 8 million years ago with African apes, we went our separate ways in regard to evolution [source: PBS].

Since we set off on our own, several varieties of hominids, which is the classification for both us and our more human ancestors, fought it out to become what we are today. For a variety of reasons, like natural selection described on the previous page, most of these species went extinct -- and Homo sapiens won out. As fossils continue to be found, we're learning just how some of these extinct hominids are connected to us in our ancestral line [source: PBS].

From the time of our ancestors to now, we've garnered more than just domesticated animals to help us live a cushier life and adapt to our surroundings. We started making basic tools around 2.6 million years ago and took control of fire by 800,000 years ago. Then, at 200,000 years ago, we meet Mr. and Mrs. Homo sapiens, modern humans (yes, us!) who started evolving in Africa, where we hung out until we started traveling the globe about 60,000 years ago. Since the arrival of those early Homo sapiens, we've advanced considerably. We started burying our dead, making clothing, crafting musical instruments and art, farming and herding animals [source: Smithsonian Museum of Natural History].

In other words, we've gotten a whole lot busier. Just look at the modern family today -- juggling family life, school, careers and jobs. In the arena of natural selection, will those of us who have a stronger genetic disposition for multitasking win out?

This brings up an important question: Are we still evolving?